Leroy, known as Da Unsigned Artist in the London’s rapping scene, had his first encounter with vitiligo when he was 15 years old. “At first, the doctors said it was lack of calcium that got me white patches. My vitiligo remained on my hands and feet until I was 26. When I got the first patch on my face, that’s when it got really hard,” he recalls.
Leroy developed anxiety about going out and didn’t want to take pictures anymore. At that point, his confidence was all time low. “I’m still not used to it. I believe I still have a lot to go through with regards to my vitiligo. People always think I’ve been burnt in some way or had some sort of accident. Some people even think it hurts, but whenever they ask questions, I have no problem satisfying their curiosity,” Leroy shares.
Is he undergoing any treatment at the moment? We asked him. He answers, “It’s strange that I don’t like my vitiligo, I don’t take pictures with my mates because a camera flash most of the time turns my vitiligo into high visibility. But, still I would not bother with any creams for vitiligo, and I would probably turn down all treatment. Once, a hospital gave me a skin camouflage to hide my vitiligo. One day I covered my hands and realized that vitiligo is now a part of me, which I it missed that day. I do think there is a small part of me that feels unique due to vitiligo.”
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Leroy believes music helps him cope when people go crazy with their questions. He has been making music for a total of 20 years, but he feels he allowed vitiligo to hold him back from progressing in the music industry. “20 years of Rapping and I had never released any music videos until October 9th, 2017. With the help of my daughter, Skye, I filmed a video and posted it on my YouTube channel. I let go of my fear of thinking that people would see my face in music videos and say errrrrr. For me, that’s a massive achievement.”
Leroy feels that there should be more awareness raised about vitiligo and possibly more support given to those who struggle to deal with the mental pain that vitiligo inflicts on them. He recalls an incident, “I remember when I posted my first Rap freestyle video on Instagram, someone made a comment on the video saying – OMG are you really foaming at the mouth. My feelings were all over the place, but then it dawned on me that this person may not know about vitiligo, so I replied calmly. The person that made the comment private messaged me and said how sorry he was.”
One day, Leroy was contacted by Brock Elbank via Instagram who told him that he was doing a photographic series on vitiligo. Leroy recollects the experience, “He invited my kids and me to his home and introduced us to his kids. He took some professional shots of my hands, arms, and face. Brock has people fly to the UK from all over the world. I felt so privileged that he chose me for his series and made me look at my vitiligo in a different light.”
Leroy urges those who have vitiligo not to be afraid to talk about it. This will only make people to be more aware of the chronic skin disorder. “It is a mental pain not physical; however it could become physical if an individual is not mentally strong enough to deal with it,” he indeed has a point.
Leroy has currently taken a break from his job due to Hypertension and Chronic kidney disease. He is eagerly waiting to get back to work as a car parts delivery driver. We wish him a speedy recovery and successful musical career ahead.